Ron Guill has had exotic pets his whole life, but only in the past few years did he start giving presentations for profit.
Guill and his son, Cody, originally started taking their exotic pets — chameleons, parrots, pythons and the like — to schools for educational programs.
But now it's morphed into a side business. (Guill is a full-time painter.) The whole family, dressed in tie-dye, shows animals at birthday parties and community events, too. Besides Guill, there's his wife, Amy; Cody Guill, 20; stepdaughters Madison Studley, 19, McKenna Studley, 15, and Morgan Studley, 13; and Cody's friend Joey Lawrence.
Reptile Ron has presented slithering and cooing pets at Champ Camp, a week-long summer camp for child burn survivors at Wonder Valley in Sanger; for foster children at Transitions Children's Services; and to women and children at the Marjaree Mason Center.
"I'm a big kid myself," Guill said. "We have a real good time with all the kids."
What's the history of the business?
Cody Guill: My dad has had all kinds of animals since before I was even born. … My third-grade teacher (at Cedarwood Elementary School in Clovis) was crazy about animals. He kept a snake in the classroom. I would tell him that, at my house, I had a complete zoo. … So we did our first show for my third-grade class. My dad started doing classroom shows for all these Clovis schools, and one thing led to another.
Amy Guill: I could see that this would be something successful and that people would really like it, so that's when we started a Facebook page and website. That's how we started getting business.
What kind of animals do you have in general?
Ron Guill: In general — snakes, turtles, tortoises, geckos, chameleons, iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions, insects from around the world, parrots, etc.
How do you find out about the animals you've rescued?
Ron Guill: A lot of my friends know that I'm an animal fanatic. If they know somebody or hear of somebody who can't keep a snake or parrot anymore, then they make their way to us. It could be the website, word of mouth, by us going to shows — that's how we get them.
Cody Guill: We encourage people, if they've got any kind of reptile or exotic animal, to give us a call and drop it off.
What sparked your love for animals?
Ron Guill: My father kept parrots and bred parrots and reptiles. Ever since I can remember, we've had them, and I've been fascinated with them. My first word when I was a baby was the name of one of the parrots my parents had — Cesar.
When you go to schools and do birthday parties, what's your favorite part?
Ron Guill: Seeing how the kids react to the animals. We went to a preschool today and I had Reno, the parrot. Some of the kids could barely talk. One of the kids was just sitting there, flapping his arms like a bird.
A lot of the parents are deathly afraid of scorpions and tarantulas. Before we leave, they end up holding them. They're challenging and overcoming their fears by getting educated about the animals.
Whenever you do the shows, are there any rules for the kids or precautions that you take?
Cody Guill: All of the animals we take are harmless. We tell people that if they're afraid of the animal, we don't have to bring it by them. If we're letting people hold stuff, we'll give them instructions.
Amy Guill: We're right there supervising them, too. It's a controlled environment.
What do you hope for the future of the business?
Amy Guill: We have bigger dreams. We want to move to the country. We want to have a real rescue and go nonprofit. We know the schools can't really go on field trips anymore, so we're like a mobile field trip. We'd like to also make something at our home so kids could come to our house and have a birthday party here.
Reptile Ron Animal Presentations
Owner: Ron Guill
Location: 1516 Portals Ave., Clovis
Phone: (559) 970-4881
Annual sales: $4,250
Online: www.fresnoanimalshows. com
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